New Forest Act rules will help corporates gain control of India's forests: Brinda Karat

CPI(M) politburo member Brinda Karat has written to Union Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Bhupender Yadav, opposing the new amended rules for the Forest Conservation Act

Brinda Karat (Photo courtesy: Twitter)
Brinda Karat (Photo courtesy: Twitter)
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PTI

CPI(M) politburo member Brinda Karat has written to Union Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Bhupender Yadav, opposing the new amended rules for the Forest Conservation Act and alleged it will help corporates to gain access and control of India's forests.

In the letter, Karat said the rules are "objectionable, condemnable and unacceptable."

"The changes in the Rules are so far-reaching in their aim to help corporates and private companies to gain access and control of India's forests that in honesty, the Government could well have brought a new law, so that people of India could understand the Government's priority.

"Indeed taking the Rules in their entirety, it is more suited for a Forest Corporatisation Act rather than a Forest Conservation Act," Karat said.

She highlighted the fact that whereas the earlier rules had provisions for diversion of 100 hectares or more, in the new rules the more has now been quantified as more than 1,000 hectares . She also said that the Ministry of Tribal Affairs had objected in 2019 to some of the provisions which had been suggested by MOEFCC.

"It is objectionable, condemnable and unacceptable how the amended Rules have totally eliminated the rights of gram sabhas and of tribal communities and other traditional forest dwellers living in forests," she said.

"Bhupender Yadav ji, this is totally against the constitutional guarantees given to tribal communities, it is in violation of the Fifth and Sixth Schedules, the PESA, the amended Wild Life Protection Act and finally and importantly the FRA. It is a violation of the Supreme Court judgement in the Niyamgiri mining case, 2013," Karat said.


She also objected to the violation of rights of forest dwellers and the certain provisions of handover of non-forest land to corporates for compensatory afforestation.

"The change in Rules are an opaque process without prior consultation or discussion with those who are affected. The procedure of Parliamentary approval is reduced to a mere formality. Given the consequences which will surely arise once these Rules are implemented, the government should put them in abeyance till there is a public discussion and opinions elicited from all those sections likely to be affected," Karat said.

She also demanded that the rules be sent for examination to the relevant Standing Committee of Parliament and the opinions of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, which is the nodal ministry for implementation of the Forest Rights Act, must be included.

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